After years of wearing gloves opening up hives I have finally gone barehanded. Clean hands don’t seem to invite stings and I get a lot more done. Especially marking queens. The stings happen but nothing painful. Once tagged though it’s a good idea to wrap it up and wash the area before working the next hive. I think a lot depends on the time of year. Early Spring is dicey barehanded.
Some bees don't even require gloves anyway (DEET or no DEET) - so why bother.
Other bees require gloves anyway - why be distracted, just wear the gloves and move on.
Then other bees are just depend on a day - so observe and play along.
Really that simple.
I would not depend on DEET.
It is yet another bad dependency to fall onto where it is not really required.
Working bare-handed is my normal procedure. I rarely have problems. It teaches you to be cvalm. 98% of stings I get are usually my own fault, when I squeeze a bee on a frame or between hand and tool, or something like that. When stung I usually back off for a couple of minutes and then smoke my hands and arms, and usually I can keep going without issues. Sometimes, though, the bees get upset, probably from some other reason as well (rough handling, weather) and I will put on nitrile gloves. Almost completely effective.
On the other hand, I know there are hives where I will start with nitrile gloves because I know my hives, and that at certain times of day they are ornery or it's just their nature to be a little cranky. I wear my goat skin gloves only a few times a year--moving hives, cleaning up a mess from bears or a storm, or capturing a swarm of bees where they're going to fall on me from up high, or which seems aggressive.
I like the dexterity and nimbleness of bare hands and simply puts me in tune with the hive.
It's also important to get stung 10 or more times a year, research has shown, to keep away a bad reaction.
So it depends.
Today I worked my backyard bees with nothing at all (well, a baseball cap and reading glasses for "protection" I guess).
But I just knew I could get away with it in this particular case.
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